Relationship with mother and daughter
Importance And Ways To Improve
Explore the dynamics of the unique bond a mother and daughter share.
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Several people have described a mother-daughter relationship in different ways. Some say, ‘A mother’s treasure is her daughter.’ And others say, ‘While a mother’s treasure is her daughter, a daughter’s sunshine is her mother.’
A mother is a role model, best friend, and a pillar of strength for her daughter. For the mother, her daughter is her world.
As soon as a daughter is born, her mother develops a strong bond with her. As the daughter grows, their relationship changes, but the feelings remain the same.
However, sometimes, there are situations when this beautiful relationship wobbles. This affects both mother and daughter. In such circumstances, it is essential to address the issues and make the relationship better.
This post discusses the relationship between a mother and daughter and gives tips on how to improve it further.
Why Is A Mother-Daughter Relationship So Important?
According to the Journal of Neuroscience, the mother-daughter relationship is known to be stronger than other parent-offspring relationship (1). And this is one relationship that helps a woman carve out every other relationship in life. Hence, it is a valuable relationship for every woman.
Also, it is one such relationship that keeps shifting its nature. As the years go by, certain tricky turns do arrive. That’s usually because of the generation gap. Or when mothers try to protect their daughters by creating certain paraimeters And their daughters rebel. No wonder people say, ‘like mother, like daughter. ’
As every mother-daughter relationship is unique, the rapport shared differs from one to another. Some mother-daughter relationships can have a twisted bond right from the beginning, while some can take a difficult route when the daughter starts growing. Any of the dysfunctional patterns between a mother and a daughter could make the bond detrimental.
Types Of Unhealthy Mother-Daughter Relationships
Although the relationship between mother and daughter is powerful, it can be challenging. If no effort is made for improvement, it can turn out to be unhealthy. Let us check out some kinds of unhealthy mother-daughter relationships.
1. Controlling relationship
Some people think that the controlling behavior of the mother is a normal parenting style. But it is not. It takes away the freedom from the daughter and shrinks her desires and passion. Whether the mother is controlling her daughter during her formative years or it is after the daughter has grown up (maybe when she is teen or adult) both strain a healthy relationship.
There are different ways of controlling, while some show anger or indifference, some of them use emotional blackmail. Such a controlling mother-daughter relationship is also termed as a boss-subordinate relationship as the mother tries to monitor and control her daughter’s activities. And the daughter, on the other hand, does everything to please her mother and to get her acceptance.
In some cases, mothers try to control their daughters for protective reasons. Although the intention might not be negative, the outcome surely is. Any controlling nature is considered ill in a mother and daughter relationship.
2. Emotional disconnect
In the case of emotional disturbances, daughters usually look for their mothers. And when the mother is not available, they may either become lonely or get closer to another member of the family (grandparent, or father, or uncle or aunt).
When the mother distances herself from her daughter, it causes a disconnect in the relationship. Also, this kind of upbringing may leave emotional scars. Hence, this is considered as a dysfunctional mother and daughter relationship.
Furthermore, there are some relationships in which the mother is both physically and emotionally absent for her daughter when she needs her the most. Or there is no physical touch, such as hugging or holding hands between the mother and the daughter. This kind of connection is termed as a ghost relationship.
3. Judgmental relationship
It is okay to mold the daughter to shape her well. But getting critical of her daughter’s every move can add bitterness to the relationship. Ideally, mothers are supposed to encourage and support their daughters and not criticize them at every step of the way.
If the ability to be independent is taken away that may suppress her ability to grow in life. In such kind of parent-child relationship, neither the daughter nor the mother is satisfied. And with every passing day, the relationship takes a noxious turn.
4. Trophy child
In this kind of relationship, the mother uses her daughter just to show off her good qualities or achievements, without thinking about her daughter’s likes and dislikes. The daughter is unhappy most of the time, as her life is being used by her mother to grab the attention of others.
In certain cases of this mother-daughter relationship, the mother uses different forms of communication, such as physical force or verbal abuse. The mother’s unreasonable expectations from her daughter, while the daughter keeps craving for maternal presence. When a mother and daughter share such a relationship, it is completely toxic.
5. Enmity relationship
Disagreements are common in any relationship, and it also happens with mother and daughter. When fights become regular, competitiveness arises in a relationship. That again leads to resentment. Constant fighting us not healthy in a relationship.
With such a relationship, the daughter may consider her mother as a rival and not as someone who loves her unconditionally.
6. Bosom buddies
One of the common types of relationships shared by mothers and daughters is called an enmeshed relationship. The relationship is affectionate as the mother treats her daughter as a best friend. Both of them share their interests, feelings, and many other things.
While parenting this way, the mother might overlook teaching her daughter proper boundaries. This lack of boundaries would certainly affect the daughter in her ability to grow and have interests and relationships.
7. Role reversal
This pattern in a relationship between mother and daughter usually occurs in the latter part of life. Here, the mother wants support emotionally or financially from her daughter. The daughter’s life is restricted, having to provide everything that her mother requires. Such a kind of relationship is not healthy.
8. Estranged relationship
Estrangement means emotional distancing. There are various reasons behind why a daughter and mother could get estranged. It might occur at any stage in life. Some of the reasons include mother divorcing or marrying another person, daughter or mother disrespecting a spouse, and mother-daughter boundaries being ignored. In such cases, there are few chances of mending the mother and daughter relationship.
A damaged mother-daughter relationship does have chances to repair the relationship.
Effects Of Faulty Mother-Daughter Relationship
The first bond that a girl has is with her mother, and so it leaves a great impact on her entire life. If the bond between a mother and daughter is balanced — with kindness, care, love, carefulness, and some limitations — the relationship is respectful and will blossom. But a damaged relationship would have adverse effects.
- Low self-esteem: The first attachment of a daughter is with her mother. And this relationship sets the mark for other relationships. The bond between a mother and daughter willreflect on the daughter’s future. A healthy bond shapes the ability to have self-confidence. But an unhealthy relationship would make her doubt herself, resulting in low self-esteem. On the other hand, even a mother is affected when her bond with the daughter is not going as she had expected.
- Depression: According to a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, maternal disengagement could be responsible for depressive disorder in children and young adults (2). When the daughter does not share a good relationship with her mother, she might tend to have symptoms of depression. A flawed relationship also adversely affects a mother, and might even take a toll on her health.
- Attachment issues: When the major relationship in a woman’s life, such as her bond with her mother, is wounded, she might experience difficulty in trusting and staying loyal to her future relations. She might have insecurities in connecting with others during adulthood.
- Hostility: When the relationship between mother and daughter is dysfunctional, there arise consistent conflicts at home. This leaves an impact on the daughter, and she might become hostile and aggressive even with others.
There might be many reasons for an unhealthy relationship between a mother and a daughter.
But.. as Nancy Thayer said, ‘It’s never too late – in fiction or in life – to revise.’
Though you cannot turn the pages back, you can still fill the next chapter with something good. No relationship can replace a mother’s love for her daughter. That means there are still ways to improve the bond or build your relationship.
Ways To Improve Mother-Daughter Relationship
Take the lead. Irrespective of whatever has happened in the past, either should make the first step to resolve the conflicts of your relationship.
1. Active listener
‘It’s hard to listen when you’re thinking about your own thoughts,’ said Faye E Hage.
Most of the time, you may assume that you are right. Instead of assuming anything, listen carefully to your mother or daughter. Listen without interrupting or analyzing. You can ask questions and get the answers to avoid any more disagreements or confusion. This is the way to connect easily.
2. Walk in her shoes
You never know what your mother or daughter is thinking about until you are in her shoes.when you try to understand from your mother’s or daughter’s perspective, then you may find it easy to reach mutual ground.
3. Open communication
Most of the misunderstandings occur due to no communication at all. Mother and daughter should be open to having healthy and honest communication. For instance, as a mother, if you don’t like your daughter spending the night at a friend’s place, you should convey it to her by explaining the reasons. On the other hand, as a daughter, if you don’t like your mother’s over-protective behavior, let her know why. softer and emotionally safe communication will surely prove to be effective.
One of the effective ways to have a conversation is to use ‘I’ instead of ‘you.’ For instance, ‘I am feeling sad,’ rather than ‘You are making me depressed.’ Try it and see how it works.
4. Better boundaries
Irrespective of how close a mother-daughter relationship is, there have to be certain boundaries. Mother and daughter can be best friends, but there has to be healthy boundaries. This not only helps in improving the bond but also maintains a respectful relationship.
let go of some grudges and forgive to maintain healthy relationships. A mother and daughter canhave plenty of conflicts, but at the end of the day, work to forgive and forget for a warm hug.
6. Quick heal
Usually, we tend to withdraw after an episode of arguments. If this withdrawal goes on to longthe gap between mother and daughter could increase. Instead of waiting, it is better to talk with each other and sort out the matter quickly. This will heal the wounds faster.
The mother and daughter are two different individuals with different perspectivesInstead of arguing and trying to always win the discussion, both the mother and the daughter should accept that sometimes there can be no mutual solutions. It is better to agree to disagree and move on in life.
1. How does a mother influence her daughter?
A mother greatly influences her daughter’s outlook on life and social interactions. A mother’s relationship with her daughter sets the foundation for their relationship in years to come. Due to this, the influence of a mother on her daughter lasts for a lifetime.
2. How to repair a mother-daughter relationship?
To repair a broken mother-daughter relationship, you must communicate effectively and be willing to listen and understand each other’s points of view. Discuss the issues that plague your relationship and come up with pragmatic solutions. Forgive each other even when you are hurt and running high on emotions, and express your affection through words and actions.
3. How to describe a mother-daughter relationship?
A mother and daughter share a special bond. A mother’s love for her daughter is unconditional and cannot be described in words. The relationship is characterized by love, warmth, affection, and care.
The mother-daughter relationship may vary among individuals, but each bond is unique and irreplaceable. Mothers and daughters may become best buddies and have the most fulfilling relationship. However, the bond may be tricky for some. For a mother, excessive controlling behavior, being judgemental, or using the daughter as a trophy child may cause emotional distancing, and the daughter may become a rebel. A bad or hostile relationship may cause low self-esteem or traits of depression in the child. Improving communication can pave the way for a reunion. Patch up soon, and heal each other’s wounds to strengthen the bond of unconditional love.
- The relationship between a mother and a daughter is special and unique in its ways.
- Some mother and daughter bonds could be strained or unhealthy due to emotional disconnect or estrangement.
- Having open communication, listening to each other, and forgiving can help strengthen the bond.
1. B. Yamagata et al.; Female-Specific Intergenerational Transmission Patterns of the Human Corticolimbic Circuitary; The Journal of Neuroscience (2016)
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Everything You Need To Know
A mom and daughter relationship is precious. But, though the bond may appear unbeatable at first, it can eventually deteriorate to the extent where the sight of each other becomes uncomfortable. However, they eventually work out their conflicts and form a caring support network.
Navigating the ever-shifting mother-daughter relationship can be challenging. But, it is not all doom and gloom! Maintaining a healthy relationship is possible, even if you are going through a difficult time. All it requires is some serious reflection and behavior modification. Keep reading this article to learn what you can do to strengthen your bond with your mother or daughter (or both!). Scroll down!
In This Article
Why Do Mother-Daughter Relationships Matter?
The importance of mother-daughter relationships came to light when a study revealed that the relationships between mothers and daughters are the strongest amongst any parent-offspring relationships (1).
In fact, it serves as the cornerstone of the future of any relationship a woman may have with those around her. The mother-daughter relationship holds the internal working model of attachment, which dictates a woman’s connection with others.
This effect also makes sense considering that mothers and daughters may have shared experiences, which scales up to form such a bias and cause mothers to favor their daughters (while fathers favor their sons) (2). Additionally, a mother’s mental health proves to be a vital marker in determining her daughter’s potential mental health conditions (3).
The relationship between mother and daughter is the most valuable connection a woman enjoys in her life. And given the role of maternal figures in translating valuable emotions and life skills like empathy, kindness, and affection, it can be the foundation of how society performs as a whole.
Now let us look at what a healthy relationship between mothers and daughters look like.
Traits Of A Healthy Mother-Daughter Relationship
- They acknowledge each other as individuals and spend adequate time – neither too much nor too little. The mother-daughter duo recognizes and respects boundaries. They make reasonable commitments to each other and come through on them.
- They accept each other the way they are rather than forcing them to conform to a particular set of ideals.
- They can disagree without being disrespectful.
- Most of their conversations are open and honest, without guilt-tripping the other into doing or saying something they would not engage in on their own volition.
- Both contribute equally to the relationship, and none of the parties bear the upper hand.
- Mothers should allow their daughters to experience (and overcome) failures, while daughters should encourage mothers to widen their horizons and push their mental barriers.
In contrast to what we have seen in the previous section, here are the signs of a toxic mother-daughter relationship.
Signs Of Dysfunctional Mother-Daughter Relationships
- You are quick to pass judgment or be judged, and most of the criticism is harsh and counter-productive. Being dismissive of each other’s actions or emotions.
- The relationship is extremely taxing on one’s emotions, time, and attention.
- Off-hand, distasteful, or unwarranted jokes about hurtful things.
- If your relationship constantly involves drama, it is far from healthy.
- A toxic mother-daughter relationship makes you the source of happiness, which can come at the cost of your mental health.
- You feel helpless when it comes to setting boundaries or standing up for yourself.
- You find yourself constantly bickering with each other.
- Involve problematic behaviors such as gaslighting, manipulation, guilt-tripping, and minimizing.
Relationships between mothers and daughters can be broadly classified into the following categories.
Types Of Mother-Daughter Relationships
1. The BFF Duo
Becoming good friends with your mother or daughter has more perks than earning a friend for life. Such a relationship rests on the pillars of trust, love, and mutual respect, where mothers and daughters freely express themselves and share emotional experiences. It instills the confidence that your mother or daughter will always be there for you for support, advice, or to lend an ear.
2. The Detached Strangers
Here, the mother and daughter hardly know anything about each other’s lives because they choose not to get involved or do not care enough. Either way, disengagement makes the relationship strained and can lead to poor mental health.
3. The Enmeshed
While detached mother-daughter relationships sever the cord, enmeshed relationships compact them into one. It is one of the most toxic forms of relationships as it sets unrealistic expectations that result in devaluation.
The mother fails to respect boundaries and tries to seek validation through her daughter. On the other hand, the daughter feels pressured into living up to her mother’s expectations regardless of her desires.
Therefore, both of them lose their identity and individuality, leading to a relationship breakdown. This attachment style is common in abusive mother-daughter relationships where one is narcissistic, and the other is co-dependent.
4. The Control Freak
It may be hard to differentiate between enmeshed and controlling mother-daughter relationships. However, both are not the same. While a mother may push her daughter to perform better, a controlling one will shrink her passions or desires. Some may even try to pass off this behavior under the guise of being protective. It restricts the child, limits their potential, and takes away their independence.
5. The Discard-Dismisser
We find one-sided rejection in this kind of difficult mother-daughter relationship. The dismissive action can be due to apathy or because the mother or daughter is impossibly hard to please. It leaves them longing for recognition and appreciation for the efforts they put into the relationship.
6. The Helicopter Tyrant
“Why? Because I said so”. If these words sound far too familiar, you have a mother who conceives herself as the ultimate authority. While they may have the best intentions at heart, the constant micromanaging, criticism, and interference make the mother and the daughter feel that any deviation from this pattern will result in failure. As a result, the mother-daughter relationship turns parasitic.
7. The Roles Reverse
Children have to parent their kids with time. If the daughter acts like a responsible adult from an early age, while the mother behaves like a sibling or liability more than a parent, the mother-daughter relationship is dysfunctional. Such a relationship is common in daughters of mothers who are young, immigrant, alcoholic, or depressive.
Healthy mother-daughter relationships will give rise to confident, compassionate, caring, and empowered women. On the flipside, troubled relationships can set the stage for a range of emotional and mental issues.
Effects Of A Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationship
- Poor Self-Esteem: An abusive mother-daughter relationship can normalize bad behavior and set the bar too low for interpersonal relationships. Being treated unfairly will have both parties doubt themselves and negatively affect their self-esteem.
- Depression: Emotional distance or detachment can lead to mental health issues like depression.
- Commitment Issues: The mother-daughter relationship breakdown can make them wary of those around them. This dysfunctional bond leaves behind deep-rooted insecurities that may reflect into other relationships.
- Poor Conduct: Emotionally abusive relationships between mothers and daughters can breed unresolved resentment, jealousy, and hostility, leading to unreasonable and unpardonable actions.
Even if you have a thriving relationship with your mother or daughter, there’s always room to improve it. Here are some actionable tips on how to foster a healthy mother-daughter relationship.
How To Improve Mother-Daughter Relationships
- Be the first to extend the white flag rather than waiting for the other to make the first move. If your attempts are met with silence, learn to give up and sever the cords when necessary.
Since you cannot control how the other person reacts or behaves, healing must start with the self. So work on yourself first.
- Encourage the willingness to change and create an environment where you contribute to each other’s personal growth.
- Set realistic expectations on the kind of relationship you wish to have. Be pragmatic about the same as behavioral changes may take a while to show effect.
- Learn each other’s love language and find ways to express care in a manner that influences the other.
- Try to incorporate transparent and open-ended conversations to put across your point without triggering defensiveness.
- If you find the situation escalating, declare that you wish to discuss this issue later. This will help you manage your emotions effectively.
- Foster an ecosystem of trust, especially during the tough adolescent phase, so that the relationships between mother and daughter stay honest throughout.
- Learn the art of active listening by echoing the other person’s concerns. Let them know that you are comprehending their intent and emotions.
- Gain an outsider’s perspective or put yourself in the other’s shoes to empathize with their condition and respect their feelings.
- If you cannot reconcile your differences, try to forgive the other person without condoning, minimizing, or pardoning the core issue.
- Maintain the subtle balance of staying close and connected without compromising on your individuality and beliefs.
- Establish healthy boundaries so that you can assert separateness in case of toxic mother-daughter relationships.
- Become comfortable with the idea that some issues may not resolve, and you may end up in a deadlock where you agree to disagree with each other.
- Rather than dredging up things from the past, prevent any further relationship breakdown by focusing on the present.
- Follow the 20-second rule. Put forward your perspective in 20 seconds or less during a conflict. Then, allow the other party to speak about their experience in the next 20 seconds. This technique enables you to stay on track of the current conflict than digressing.
- Stay respectful towards each other even during a conflict or disagreement. Avoid involving third parties for resolution or badmouthing the other.
- Set aside a fixed date, time, and schedule for routine mother-daughter hangout sessions.
Mother and daughter relationships are placed on such a high pedestal that we often forget how every relationship is different. Studies have shown that relationships between mothers and their daughters can be the strongest among other parent-offspring relationships. However, it is okay if the relationship doesn’t live up to ridiculously high standards. Let the innate scope for emotional connection bloom. Create a healthy environment for emotional expression and understanding. If you sense that the discord is severe, seek the help of therapists and counselors. A little bit of effort in the relationship will go a long way!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you deal with a hurtful daughter?
There is a common phase in teenage life where children just do not get along with their parents and often say or do things that parents find hard to deal with. It could be helpful to go back to your teenage years and realize that all children want is to fit in, be heard, feel valued, and be appreciated. If your daughter is acting out, it might be because she wants someone to listen. So reach out and try to be there for her in whatever ways she needs you.
Why are mother-daughter relationships so hard?
Mother-daughter relationships can be hard sometimes because of the differences in perspective and ideologies. Growing up, most daughters are the spitting image of their mothers – not just in appearance but also in how they carry themselves. However, as daughters grow older, they may become more independent and view the world differently, which could stir some tension in the mother-daughter dynamics.
- A mother-daughter relationship is the strongest among other parent-offspring relationships, suggests a study.
- The mother’s mental health has a lot of bearing on their daughter’s condition. So, mothers must pay attention and act responsibly.
- Create an ecosystem of trust, particularly during the tough adolescent phase of the daughter, to make the relationship stay honest throughout.
Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.
- Mothers’ and Their Adult Daughters’ Perceptions of Their Relationship
- Do Mothers Spend More on Daughters While Fathers Spend More on Sons?
- Female-Specific Intergenerational Transmission Patterns of the Human Corticolimbic Circuitry
- Things i love about my mom
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When the relationship between mother and daughter is like madness
Someone idealizes his mother, and someone admits that he hates her and cannot find a common language with her. Why is this such a special relationship, why do they hurt us so much and cause such different reactions?
A mother is not just an important character in a child's life. According to psychoanalysis, almost the entire human psyche is formed in the early relationship with the mother. They are not comparable to any others.
The mother for the child, according to psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, is actually the environment in which it is formed. And when relationships do not develop in the way that would be useful for this child, his development is distorted.
In practice, the relationship with the mother determines everything in a person's life. This places a great responsibility on a woman, because a mother never becomes a person for her adult child with whom he can build equal trusting relationships. The mother remains an incomparable figure in his life with nothing and no one.
What does a healthy relationship between mother and adult daughter look like?
This is a relationship in which adult women can communicate and negotiate with each other, live a separate life - each of her own. They can be angry with each other and disagree, dissatisfied with something, but at the same time aggression does not destroy love and respect, and no one takes away their children and grandchildren from anyone.
But the daughter-mother relationship is the most complex of the four possible combinations (father-son, father-daughter, mother-son, and mother-daughter). The fact is that the mother for the daughter is the primary object of affection. But then, at the age of 3–5 years, she needs to transfer her libidinal feelings to her father, and she begins to fantasize: “When I grow up, I will marry my father.”
This is the same oedipal complex that Freud discovered, and it is strange that no one before him did this, because the attraction of the child to the parent of the opposite sex was noticeable at all times.
And it is very difficult for a girl to go through this obligatory stage of development. After all, when you start to love dad, mom becomes a rival, and both of you somehow need to share dad's love. It is very difficult for a girl to compete with her mother, who is still loved and important to her. And the mother, in turn, is often jealous of her husband for her daughter.
But this is only one line. There is also a second one. For a little girl, her mother is an object of affection, but then she needs to identify with her mother in order to grow and become a woman.
There is some contradiction here: the girl has to simultaneously love her mother, fight her for her father's attention and identify with her. And here a new difficulty arises. The fact is that mother and daughter are very similar, and it is very easy for them to identify with each other. It is easy for a girl to mix her own and her mother's, and it is easy for a mother to see her continuation in her daughter.
Many women really have a hard time distinguishing themselves from their daughters. It's like psychosis. If you ask them directly, they will object and say that they distinguish everything perfectly and do everything for the good of their daughters. But at some deep level, this boundary is blurred.
Is taking care of your daughter also taking care of yourself?
Through her daughter, the mother wants to realize what she has not realized in life. Or something that she herself loves very much. She sincerely believes that her daughter should love what she loves, that she will like to do what she herself does. Moreover, the mother simply does not distinguish between her own and her needs, desires, feelings.
Do you know jokes like “put on a hat, I'm cold”? She really feels for her daughter. I remember an interview with artist Yuri Kuklachev, who was asked: “How did you raise your children?” He says: “And this is the same as with cats.
No tricks can be taught to a cat. I can only notice what she is inclined to, what she likes. One is jumping, the other is playing with a ball. And I develop this tendency. Likewise with children. I just looked at what they are, what they naturally come out with. And then I developed them in this direction.
This is the sensible approach when a child is viewed as a separate being with its own personality traits.
And how many mothers do we know who seem to take care: they take their children to circles, exhibitions, concerts of classical music, because, according to their deep feeling, this is exactly what the child needs. And then they also blackmail them with phrases like: “I put my whole life on you,” which cause an enormous feeling of guilt in adult children. Again, this looks like psychosis.
In essence, psychosis is the inability to distinguish between what is happening inside you and what is outside. The mother is outside the daughter. And the daughter is outside of her. But when a mother believes that her daughter likes what she likes, she begins to lose this boundary between the inner and outer world. And the same thing happens to my daughter.
They are the same sex, they are really very similar. This is where the theme of shared insanity comes in, a kind of mutual psychosis that only extends to their relationship. If you do not observe them together, you may not notice any violations at all. Their interaction with other people will be quite normal. Although some distortions are possible. For example, this daughter with women of the maternal type - with bosses, female teachers.
What is the cause of this psychosis?
Here it is necessary to recall the figure of the father. One of his functions in the family is to stand between mother and daughter at some point. This is how a triangle appears, in which there is a relationship between the daughter and the mother, and the daughter with the father, and the mother with the father.
But very often a mother tries to make sure that her daughter's communication with her father goes through her. The triangle collapses.
I have met families where this model is reproduced for several generations: there are only mothers and daughters, and the fathers are removed, or they are divorced, or they never existed, or they are alcoholics and have no weight in the family. Who in this case will destroy their closeness and merging? Who will help them separate and look somewhere else but at each other and "mirror" their madness?
By the way, did you know that in almost all cases of Alzheimer's or some other type of dementia, mothers call their daughters "moms"? In fact, in such a symbiotic relationship, there is no distinction between who is related to whom. Everything merges.
Should a daughter be "daddy's"?
Do you know what people say? In order for the child to be happy, the girl must be like her father, and the boy must be like her mother. And there is a saying that fathers always want sons, but love more than daughters. This folk wisdom fully corresponds to the psychic relations prepared by nature. I think that it is especially difficult for a girl who grows up as a "mother's daughter" to separate from her mother.
The girl grows up, enters childbearing age and finds herself, as it were, in the field of adult women, thereby pushing her mother into the field of old women. This is not necessarily happening at the moment, but the essence of the change is there. And many mothers, without realizing it, experience it very painfully. Which, by the way, is reflected in folk tales about an evil stepmother and a young stepdaughter.
Indeed, it is difficult to bear that a girl, a daughter, is flourishing, and you are getting old. A teenage daughter has her own tasks: she needs to separate from her parents. In theory, the libido that awakens in her after a latent period of 12–13 years should be turned from the family outward, to her peers. And the child during this period should leave the family.
If a girl's bond with her mother is very close, it is difficult for her to break free. And she remains a "home girl", which is perceived as a good sign: a calm, obedient child has grown up. In order to separate, to overcome attraction in such a situation of merger, the girl must have a lot of protest and aggression, which is perceived as rebellion and depravity.
It is impossible to realize everything, but if a mother understands these peculiarities and nuances of relationships, it will be easier for them. I was once asked such a radical question: “Is a daughter obliged to love her mother?” In fact, a daughter cannot help but love her mother. But in close relationships there is always love and aggression, and in the mother-daughter relationship of this love there is a sea and a sea of aggression. The only question is what will win - love or hate?
Always want to believe that love. We all know such families where everyone treats each other with respect, everyone sees in the other a person, an individual, and at the same time feels how dear and close he is.
Daughter and mother: separation is difficult, but necessary!
A person among people
To tell about her painful relationship with her mother, 40-year-old Katerina writes the book “Mom, don't read! Confessions of an "ungrateful" daughter. In it, she lists in detail her childhood and adult attempts to earn maternal love, each time unsuccessful. She does not write for her mother - this is how she tries to get rid of the pain, which "stretched out for many years and has not subsided so far" ...
Natalia is 36 years old and considers her mother her best friend. “We often call each other, go shopping together, and every weekend I come to her with my children. We are very close,” she shares. And after a pause, he admits that the visits are not entirely voluntary. It is worth missing at least one, and she feels guilty. As in her youth, when her mother reproached her for selfishness, constantly reminding her of what she had sacrificed in life while raising her “ungrateful daughter”. .. by forgiving her, nor freed from dependence and guilt. In other words, they never truly matured. Why is it so difficult?
“The relationship between mother and daughter is unique,” says psychotherapist Ekaterina Mikhailova. “They always have guilt and forgiveness, affection and rebellion, incomparable sweetness and incomparable pain, the inevitable similarity and its furious denial, the first and main experience of our “together” - and the first attempt to still be separately...
Competition. Struggle. Fear. A piercing need for attention, for approval. Horror before the power of this need. Love, sometimes manifesting itself in murderous, suffocating forms. The first experience of submission to power, "superior enemy forces" - and the very first experience of one's power over another person. Jealousy. Unspoken grievances. Expressed grievances. And above all this is the uniqueness of these relations. The other one won't."
Merge in order to separate later
In early childhood, almost complete merging with the mother is necessary for the child in order to survive. “The sense of security that arises from such a symbiosis helps him grow, mature and gradually begin an independent life,” says psychoanalyst Elina Zimina. “But if there was no such closeness, the desire to merge with the mother, to feel her unconditional love, may remain the most important, the main one.”
That is why so many adults look at the world through their mother's eyes, act as she would have done, hope for her approval and appreciation.
For a girl, a mother is a perfect omnipotent being of the same sex as her. It is later, from about three to six years old, that she begins to compete with her for her father's love. It is easier for girls to distance themselves from their mother compared to boys, for whom the mother becomes the “object of love”. But if this does not happen, the merger can turn into dependence: they see only similarities in each other, but do not notice differences.
An adult who continues to struggle with his parents most likely never separated from them
Staying in a close relationship with her mother, the girl stops growing up, because she does not feel like a separate person. And only by moving away, you can find differences: “how am I different from her?”, “What am I?”, “Who am I as a woman?”. By holding her daughter near her, the mother prevents her from finding answers to these questions.
“Gradual separation, separation from parents, creates within us the mental space necessary to feel our own characteristics and desires, including our femininity,” explains Elina Zimina. “It is the ability to distinguish between what belongs to me and what belongs to another.”
You can compare yourself with someone who is on equal or almost equal positions with us. However, for a child, a mother is a creature devoid of flaws. To see a real woman in her, you have to overthrow her from an imaginary pedestal. It is enough to recall the intensity of passions between adolescents and parents to understand how painful this deidealization is.
“When a teenager sees real people in his parents, the degree of hostility usually decreases,” says the psychoanalyst. “And an adult who continues to fight with his parents most likely never separated from them.”
But the separation does not end there either, and a girl who becomes a woman, a mother, has to establish a new distance with her own mother every time.
The third is not superfluous
Contradictions and conflicts, overt or hidden, are always present in the relationship between mother and daughter. “A mother can painfully experience the loss of her daughter’s unconditional love when, in the oedipal phase of development, she transfers her love to her father,” explains Elina Zimina. - Unlike girls, a boy at this age continues to love his mother. Therefore, in the relationship of mothers with sons, there are fewer conflicts and more harmony. And in the relationship of mother and daughter, there can be more conflicting feelings: in addition to love, they contain jealousy, envy and rivalry.
Both poles of maternal love are equally dangerous for a daughter: her lack and excess
In this connection, the image of the little girl who was once the mother herself clearly shines through. This image brings her back to memories of her own childhood, her relationship with her own mother, the experience of love and pain.
Both poles of maternal love, its deficiency and excess, are equally dangerous for a daughter. But the relationship of mother and daughter is not a relationship of two, but always of three people. “The father separates them and tells his daughter: “I am your mother’s husband and lover,” explains Elina Zimina. “At the same time, he supports his daughter, admiring her femininity, and makes it clear that later she will meet a man who will give her the desired love.”
The third person who helps mother and daughter separate from each other may not be only the father or the mother's partner. An idea, a passion, a job is something that can completely capture a woman’s thoughts so that for this time she forgets about the child, feels “separated” from him.
Of course, a psychotherapist can also play this role. “With one“ but ”, which is often not taken into account in dreams and plans,” Ekaterina Mikhailova insists. “Any third person is a temporary figure: having fulfilled his role, he must fade into the background, making room for the development of relations.”
Far and near
Where is the boundary between a good, trusting relationship and complete dependence on the wishes and moods of the mother? It is not always easy to find the answer to this question. Especially now, when a friendly relationship with the mother ("mother-girlfriend") is becoming the ideal of many women. But often they hide the lack of distance, the very “uncut umbilical cord”.
Daily calls, requests for advice, intimate details - this is how it looks in real life. But constant conflicts, and even a gap between mother and daughter, do not mean that there is no emotional connection between them. Distance is also not an indicator. “A daughter can be extremely dependent on her mother, despite the fact that they are separated by thousands of kilometers, or live with her in the same house and be independent,” says Elina Zimina.
A woman's natural desire to become independent can be hindered by her mother's desire to keep her by her side, often unconsciously. “Sometimes she perceives the separation of the child as evidence that he no longer loves her and leaves her - perhaps this is due to her own experience of sudden separation,” Elina Zimina gives an example. - She may not be sure of her own femininity and be jealous of her daughter's beauty. Or consider himself entitled to manage her life, because he sees his continuation in it. A single woman can look for a “substitute” husband or her own mother in a child.
If parents allow their children to be free, but are ready to support if necessary, then the separation will take place peacefully
In response, the daughter manifests anxiety - fear of losing her mother's love, self-doubt, fear of men ... Some mothers want to keep their daughter at any cost, others, on the contrary, they strive to “get rid of” it as quickly as possible. At the first teenage attempts to declare independence, they say: “well, you are completely free and independent, you can live as you want.”
But behind this lies rejection. “Adult children also need support,” says Elina Zimina. “And if parents allow them to be free, but are ready to support if necessary, then the separation is likely to pass peacefully and good relations will continue.”
The path to freedom
True independence comes when a woman critically evaluates her mother's attitudes, behaviors, and life scenarios. It is impossible to completely abandon them, because in this way she will be isolated from her own femininity. But to accept them entirely means that she, having remained a copy of her mother, will never become herself.
“Usually, those who manage to unilaterally “withdraw claims” and stop nourishing painful relationships with their hopes, grievances, or playing the role of an ideal mother or daughter, can usually move towards a seemingly desired, but still not advancing independence,” says Ekaterina Mikhailova . Too close relationship is mutual. Often it just seems that “mom won’t let go” - both are not ready to move into a new phase of the relationship, but the responsibility for this is usually assigned to the older one.
If we really want changes, we need to start with a few tough questions to ourselves, Ekaterina Mikhailova advises: “What am I hiding from myself, explaining all the problems of my life with pressure, influence, interference and the need to take care of one or the other? Maybe it's me who fills the emotional void with the game of fighting for independence?
Maybe the world behind me scares me so much that it's easier for me to stay in a strange mixture of duel, dance and embrace with that other woman? What do I hope for, continuing to sort things out, reconcile, quarrel, reproach - or pamper and please? Maybe, in the depths of my soul, I still believe that it will be possible to prove something, that “she” will agree, accept, approve ... "
How do we know if we have really managed to become independent and have broken the mother's umbilical cord? This is so if we are no longer torn apart by conflicting feelings, no longer tormented by internal conflicts. If we ourselves regulate the degree of trust and distance in relations with the mother, without feeling guilty. We can objectively assess what we are similar and what are different from each other. And finally, if we feel that we are connected with the mother in certain bonds, but not tightly attached to her.
As adults, we begin to build relationships with mothers in a new way. However, with some of them, this is especially difficult to do. Psychologist Susan Cohen and journalist Edward Cohen list 10 common types.
- Narcissistic . She dreams of seeing in her daughter a pretty doll who would think only of her mother.
- Supervisory . She has a rule for every occasion. And every time she tells her daughter that she did not fulfill it.
- Opinion dependent . He worries about what the neighbors will think - even when his daughter has long grown up and left the city.
- Seductive . Always dressed in fashion, too short, too tight.